Challenge,  News,  On Writing,  publishing

WMG Publishing Bought a Bookstore

North by Northwest Books and Antiques shifts to WMG…

About a week or so ago I saw on Facebook a post about how the owners of North by Northwest Books was going to have to close and give the store back to Sheldon McArthur. Some sort of personal reason. To say I was stunned would be an understatement.

Sheldon McArthur, who many of you know, had started that store about ten years ago after he retired from being one of the most famous bookstore owners in the country. Shelly owned The Mystery Bookstore in the LA area and sold it to retire to the Oregon Coast.

But once a bookstore owner, always a bookstore owner, so ten years ago Shelly started this nifty store in Lincoln City called North by Northwest Books and Antiques. About a year or so ago, he sold it to his manager and stepped back.

Now, suddenly, he found himself back with the bookstore again with the idea to liquidate it and shut it down. So after I learned about the possible closure, I talked with Kris and Allyson and then called Shelly. Kris and I had wanted to buy the store when he first thought of selling it, but he wanted to sell it to his manager. I couldn’t believe it was back in his hands again.

So Allyson and I and Kris got together and figured out a way to make the bookstore be a wonderful thing for WMG Publishing Inc. and we made an offer to Shelly.

Today, he and his wonderful wife Charlene took us up on the offer and we signed the papers.

WMG Publishing Inc. now owns a third brick and mortar store. And Shelly is going to stay on and help us a couple days a week.

So for at least two days a week Shelly is back at North by Northwest Books and Antiques!!!

I am so excited!!

Writer extraordinaire Dan Duval has agreed to take over and manage the store. Billy Reece, who is WMG Publishing’s head of sales will be Dan’s corporation link, since Billy managed a bookstore for a very long time. And, of course, Shelly and I will be around causing all sorts of fun troubles. (grin)

Dan has a ton of great ideas on indie books which I will announce here when the time comes. And we will be doing fun things at and through the store, including signings and other kinds of promotions. So stay tuned on all of that.

Beyond the physical bookstore we have inside our north Pop Culture Collectables store, having a physical bookstore has fantastic advantages for WMG Publishing Inc. I will be talking about some of those innovative things as WMG fires up some of them, including a sales force.

It is a new world gone around to an old world. Many of you don’t know that major traditional publishing companies back when they started often came out of back rooms of bookstores. Just as indie publishing is nothing new, publishing companies owning bookstores is also nothing new.

I know a lot of young writers think paper books are going away, but those writers miss the fantastic advantages paper books have for sales and finding readers. Over this next year I will talk about some of those advantages here. Sometimes the advantages are evident beyond another cash stream, sometimes they are not.

Electronic books are not going away. Paper books are not going away. For WMG Publishing Inc now, we not only sell our books and magazines through the major online sellers around the world in all forms, we have physical locations in our control.

We know how to run a bookstore in this modern world. We have no problem selling on ABE or Amazon through the store, not counting through WMG Publishing and through a store’s web site and on eBay. It is an international business. Our three brick and mortar locations are just the hub of that. The foundation might be another way of looking at it.

We have no problem working with authors and promoting authors we publish in Fiction River and other products, and will be doing that not only through some changes in web sites and through the new Pulphouse Magazine and web site, but also through advantages the physical bookstore gives us.

We have so many great ideas and now with the pure luck that came about over this last week or so, WMG Publishing just took another leap forward and will be able to start implementing some of the ideas.

Stay tuned. This ride really will be fun.

And even more important to a great number of people, writers, and regular customers around the country, Shelly is back at North by Northwest Books and Antiques.

That alone is a reason to celebrate WMG buying the bookstore.

Thank you, Shelly, for giving us this chance.

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  • Rob Cornell

    I had no idea Shelly had sold the store. I still remember him from his days at the Mystery Book in LA. One of my fondest memories of living there. Glad he’s found a way back into the game that works for him.

    Exciting news, Dean. Congrats!

  • Cora

    So the next item on the agenda absolutely needs to be the invention of a transporter. So that those of us on the other side of the continent can just pop in for a quick browse and purchase. I love me my browsing in a bookstore.

    Congratulations on the new baby/bookstore.

  • Annie Reed

    Congratulations, guys! Great news! And Shelly’s back!! I think I’m over-using exclamation points, but for this, I don’t care!!!

    • dwsmith

      Exactly how I feel about having Shelly back in his bookstore. We may own it now, but it will always be Shelly’s bookstore in my mind.

    • dwsmith

      The everything old is new is what I have been talking about for a decade now. To learn the future of publishing, look to its history. The big box stores were only a blip on the timeline. The mega-corporations will only be a larger blip along the timeline. Publishing has patterns. I really got a kick out of all the articles about how electronic books were going to take over for all books and eventually no paperbacks will exist. You could take exactly the same articles from the late 1940s and early 1950s and just exchange the word paperback for electronic book. I think some authors of those stupid articles did just that. The certainly didn’t look at history at all.

      Indie publishing, in a slightly new form, is exactly what was happening from 1850 until 1950 or so. Small presses grew into medium presses like WMG Publishing. Thousand and thousands of small presses, most only publishing the one author that started it. All standard. And back in the 1700s and 1800s and early 1900s, most book publishing was done out of the back of bookstores. In my collection I have bookstore catalogs with new releases from the press in the bookstore.

      We diversified WMG Publishing because of my interest in collectables and books and because it is just good business to expand the number of cash streams. I believe the number of bookstores that are failing these days are for two reasons. One, they are in high rent areas and don’t think they have a choice. Two, the owners have their head in the sand and think they can make their living from what walks through the door. That’s just stupid in 2017.

      Our bookstore, North by Northwest Books and Antiques, will sell not only to people who walk through the door (we are in a tourist area and in a small mall right across the parking lot from one of our other stores), but we will sell on eBay, on ABE, on Amazon (not KDP, but as a vendor), and on our own web site. No chance in hell could we keep the door open only selling to those coming through the door. We sell worldwide. And we like that. A very large market.

  • Colleen

    I didn’t know Shelly had sold but am delighted that you and Kris have been able to buy it, and also that it means Shelly is back and at his own pace. Wonderful news all around! Congratulations!

  • Dan McGirt

    Fantastic! After hearing about them for years, I look forward to visiting both the bookstore and Pop Culture Collectibles while I’m in the area for the upcoming solar disturbance.

  • Maggie Lynch

    I remember meeting Shelly a long time ago (10 years? Maybe 15) What an excellent move for all concerned! Congratulations, and good to see Dan Duvall involved as well.

    It’s so interesting that I see this announcement from the Digital Book World blog on the same day I just sent copies of all my books to a friend opening a bookstore in Aberdeen, WA. He started with a writing / teaching space a little more than year ago. Then he started working with teens. Then he realized he wanted/needed a bookstore as well with an emphasis on indie books that meet the niche he wants to serve. He’s providing good commissions to indie’s that also allow us to provide him good wholesale deals see he can compete better.

    I agree the paperback is going to stay around. About 1/3rd of my audience prefers paperback. I also agree about partnering with other vendors who have a strong online engine. My favorite bookstore in the Beaverton/Hillsboro area has been an Amazon vendor for quite some time and I think that is one of the many reasons she has stayed in business. She also partners as an affiliate with Kobo to provide an ebook link and has her own ebook download capabilities specifically for big events to get people to purchase before leaving the store.

    I know you and Kris will do some great things and I’m excited to hear how it goes.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Maggie. Can I ask what you think would be a good commission to an indie author? We have all sorts of things in the talking stages and that bit of information would be useful.

      And yeah, Dan is in heaven. He had always wanted to run a bookstore and without him being available, I doubt we would have tried this. Plus across the parking lot we have Billy, who ran a bookstore as the manager for five or more years. He runs Pop Culture Collectables and is the WMG Publishing head of sales. Plus I can’t seem to stay out of the store at this point, so we’re having a great time. Shelly was in there for a time today as well, working with Dan to get accounts set up. Shelly will actually run the store two days a week starting next week. Wonderful fun!!